While most of us were doing our regular weekend activities, grad student Danial Smith was pulling back-to-back all-nighters. On January 24-26, Smith, along with fellow students Michael Conry & Benjamin Crysup , travelled to the Orlando area to design, then program a game at the Global Game Jam. Now in its sixth year, the GGJ is held annually in locations around the world. At the event, game developers convene in distributed locations to create games in a short time span, in this case 48 hours. Smith found out about the event from a couple of sources, including a game engine he uses in a project he is working on with Professor Gordon Erlebacher. “I found out about the Global Game Jam, because I have been using Unity. Unity is a game engine used to develop video games. I noticed they were giving away a professional version of their software for a month as a promotion so people interested in attending and participating in the event could have time to prepare.”

The GGJ location closest to Tallahassee was in Winter Park at Full Sail University. The group arrived a little late, but once there, they met and teamed up with a Full Sail graphic design student. “We got there right after 5 o’clock. By the time we found out the theme and figured out what we were going to do, we were able to get started programming around 1 a.m. We also met Hannah, a graphic design major. As a graphic design student, she added so much to the team. She was able to do modeling and texturing and concept art for the project. “

Each of the students brought their own computers, and they slept at the venue in a dark room provided by the organizers. “We crashed there. We took blankets and sleeping bags with us, and we slept in shifts. We made sure one of us – Michael – slept most of Saturday night so he could drive back to Tallahassee on Sunday.”

The name of the game Smith, Conry and Crysup designed is a first person tunnel runner game called Villains. The user sees the game from the perspective of a person who is always running forward. The programming concluded at 3pm, so the participants had a chance to look at and interact with the other teams’ games.“Our game is an open source project that we can continue to work on it if we want. Considering we didn’t get the whole time to program, and they stopped a little early so we could play with the other games, I think we did pretty well. There are several things I want to tweak and a few things we can do to expand the project. I also want to sponsor an event here in Tallahassee next year.”

Click here to see the game Smith, Conry, Crysup and Hannah, their Full Sail cohort, created.